The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index grew to 106.9, 2.0 points above December’s reading. January’s report was one of the highest readings in the 45-year history of the index. Six of the ten index components rose in January, while two declined. Thirty-two percent of business owners surveyed said the next three months was a good time to expand, five points more than last month’s reading.
Reported job creation fell four points, as 55% of businesses reported hiring or trying to hire. However, 49% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-two percent of employers surveyed cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their top business problem. A seasonally adjusted net 20% of owners plan to create new jobs, unchanged from last month’s record high reading.
Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting better business conditions increased four points to 41%. The percent of owners reporting higher sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months was a net 5%, a four point decline from December. Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes fell three points, falling to 25% of owners. Capital spending was unchanged as 61% of owners reported capital outlays. The percent of owners planning capital outlays in the next 3 to 6 months grew two points to 29%.
Credit concerns remained historically low, as just 3% of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not met, unchanged from December. Only 2% of business owners surveyed reported that financing was their top business problem, compared to 19% citing taxes.
Read the NFIB report.